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The impact of SME’s pre-bankruptcy financial distress on earnings management tools

Domenico Campa and María-del-Mar Camacho-Miñano

International Review of Financial Analysis, 2015, vol. 42, issue C, 222-234

Abstract: Previous literature finds that situations that put managers under significant levels of pressure (e.g. IPO, upcoming credit rating changes, violation of debt covenant, etc.) might affect the way earnings are manipulated. The aim of this study is to investigate whether the pressure caused by the non-temporary level of financial distress, conditions the choice between real activity and discretionary accrual manipulation. Using a selection of financial distress indexes and pre-bankruptcy data of a sample of bankrupt small companies operating in a code law country, our findings show that, on average, firms with higher levels of financial distress show more extensive signs of upward earnings management through real transaction manipulation rather than accruals and vice versa. Accordingly, real activity earnings management is preferred over accruals when managers are under significant levels of ‘pressure’ such as being close to face a bankruptcy procedure, despite its implications for the firm in the long term.

Keywords: Bankruptcy; Earnings management; Real activity manipulation; Accrual manipulation; SMEs; Panel data (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: G33 M41 M21 C33 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2015
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